Cookies, Counting, and Covid

Posted on April 29, 2020

May/June Megillah 2020- Hmm, I’m picturing making chocolate chip cookies.  I’ll blend the softened butter with sugar and add the eggs and vanilla.  I especially like to put in some peanut butter.  It cuts down on the sweetness.   And then of course the flour, baking powder, salt, and lots of good quality chocolate chips.  I can even smell them coming out of the oven.   I haven’t baked since Passover since my son complained that I over did it and he didn’t want to get fat.  And so, I’ve been fantasizing instead.  It didn’t help much when I picked up a 25 pound bag of flour at Costco.  What was I thinking? 

As we continue to shelter at home and social distance, we all deal with changes in differing ways.  Some of us like to bake, others read, write, walk, garden, binge on Netflix, Zoom and Face Time with family.   As the weeks go by, our days can blend together much like my cookie dough.  And yet, as Jews, we are told to make every day distinct by counting the days of the Omer

In the Leviticus, we are instructed to count the Omer for seven weeks, from the second day of Passover until we reach the holiday of Shavuot.  We literally count the days since we were liberated from Egypt until we stand at the foothills of Sinai to receive the Torah.  In antiquity, the Omer was a measure of newly harvested grains such as barley.  Only once it was offered on the altar, could our people partake of it.  It was a way of saying thank you to God for the grains of the earth that would nourish our people, not only during the summer but through the upcoming winter as well.  Today, we no longer have the Temple or the altar and most of us don’t farm the land.  But still, we persist in counting the days. 

There are many benefits to this.  Well, first of all it’s a mitzvah, a commandment to count the days but it also implores us to find ways to make every day meaningful and significant.   While the many restrictions on what we can do can be seen as an impediment, it can also be seen as an opportunity.  When does time slow down so much that we have time to think, reflect, and be aware?  Under normal situations, there is such a flurry of errands, activities, and work that the days pass into weeks.   And so, now we have the luxury of time.  Time to see every day as a chance to connect with friends and family via phone, Skype, Face Time, and etc.  Time to think about who we are and what we want for ourselves when things begin to normalize.  Life is such a gift and even days of uncertainty can be a blessing, if we make it so.

I’m looking forward to defying my son’s wishes on my next day off.  I’ll make strawberry pies.  One for my home and one for a friend as I continue to count my blessings each and every day.

Rabbi Myers